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  • Purdue University Fort Wayne Music Technology Program to be Housed on Sweetwater Campus
For Immediate Release
January 10, 2018

Purdue University Fort Wayne Music Technology Program to be Housed on Sweetwater Campus

Key Info

  • Sweetwater will renovate 8,000 sq ft. facility to house music technology program on company campus
  • The facility will include studios, classrooms, and other teaching spaces
  • The facility will be designed by The Russ Berger Group, a world leader in creating educational spaces with advanced technology

FORT WAYNE, Ind.—Purdue University Fort Wayne* and Sweetwater officials announced this afternoon a partnership that will locate a majority of the university’s music technology program on the Sweetwater campus. The company will turn an existing 8,000 square foot facility, just south of the main building, into a learning center that will include studios, classrooms, and other teaching spaces.

The facility is expected to open in August 2018, prior to the university’s fall semester and first day of classes.

Chuck and Lisa Surack and Sweetwater will contribute to this project in two ways. They will provide $1.6 million for the build-out of the facility. The university will reimburse the $1.6 million over a six-year period in the form of a lease. In addition, Purdue Fort Wayne is receiving a gift-in-kind in the amount of $1.465 million, based on the Suracks not charging any interest or rent for the building. Additionally, the students and faculty will enjoy the many benefits of the Sweetwater campus, from its recording studios to the amenities that its employees take advantage of including the Downbeat Diner, Crescendo Cafe, Health Club, and more.

In addition to funding from Sweetwater, the State of Indiana, and the English Bonter Mitchell Foundation have each provided $1 million to the Purdue music program. A significant portion of these funds, not yet determined, will be used for gear and infrastructure for the Sweetwater campus project.

“This music technology facility is a major new collaboration between Purdue Fort Wayne and the local business community," said Chancellor Ronald Elsenbaumer. "Since arriving in Fort Wayne a few months ago, I have been incredibly impressed with the generosity of those in the Fort Wayne and northeast Indiana communities. Chuck and Lisa Surack are excellent examples of this generosity and we’re extremely grateful to them for working with us in what I hope will be the first of many partnerships we build over the coming years.”

Sweetwater founder and president Chuck Surack remarked, “Sweetwater’s relationship with the music department at the IU and Purdue campus has been strong for decades. This music technology facility takes that relationship to an entirely new level. It will not only provide a fully-equipped, state-of-the-art learning facility but will allow for more collaboration and integration between students and the professional work of Sweetwater’s talented and dedicated music professionals, as well as access through internships to our three professional recording studios and performance theatre. We also look forward to having Purdue students here to explore and enjoy the many unique features of our campus.”

The facility has been designed by The Russ Berger Design Group, a world leader in creating educational spaces using the latest technological innovations and specializing in acoustical and architectural design for schools and studios. The new construction will include a world-class recording studio with an adjacent teaching lab, three isolation booths, four editing suites, a student musical collaboration center, an equipment library, classrooms, conference rooms, and administrative offices.

This learning center will accommodate two proposed new majors. A B.S. in Music Industry will be essential in preparing graduates to find employment in the music industry. A B.S. in Popular Music will offer concentrations in recording or songwriting.

"The new partnership between Sweetwater and Purdue University Fort Wayne is exactly the kind of innovation we need as we look to the future of our state’s workforce. These are the kinds of ventures required to develop the next generation of talent here in northeast Indiana and throughout the Hoosier state," said Indiana Senate President Pro Tem David Long (R-Fort Wayne). “More importantly, this will be the first, and only, School of Music in the Purdue University system. The fact that Purdue is collaborating with one of the cutting-edge, global leaders in the musical world in Sweetwater Sound makes it a home run for everyone concerned.”

As announced in mid-December, the Purdue University Board of Trustees approved the College of Visual and Performing Arts to establish a School of Music (previously a Department of Music) at Purdue University Fort Wayne effective July 1, 2018.

“The visibility of the new Purdue Fort Wayne music technology program will be greatly enhanced by the thousands of visitors to the Sweetwater campus who will see our presence and meet our students in our building and the main Sweetwater facility as well,” said Greg Jones, chair and professor of music.

In addition to the new degrees mentioned above, the School of Music will continue to offer degrees in the existing programs of music performance, music education, and music therapy, plus an international performers certificate. The school also plans to host more national music festivals on campus.

“Our music program is already home to world-class faculty and staff and growing it from a Department of Music to a School of Music will attract more students nationally and internationally,” said John O’Connell, dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts. ”Creating a state-of-the-art facility on the Sweetwater campus sets our program above and beyond that of any program of this kind in the nation.”

*Pending Higher Learning Commission approval.